Friday, February 28, 2014

Zerrik Meets Erik . . .

It's not every day that you get to see generosity and humility in action, but our grandsons got a big dose on Saturday.  The young man pictured below is high jumper Erik Kynard, Kansas State University alumni, 8-time All American, 6-time Big XVII Champion, 2-time National Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist.  When Dave saw on Twitter that Erik would be competing at the USATF National Championship in Albuquerque on Saturday, he immediately called Amy and asked her to take the boys (Zerrik on the left, Treyvin on the right) to see Erik jump.  He also tweeted to Eric to be on the lookout for a couple handsome young fans wearing their K-State purple.  

The boys watched Erik clear 2.3 meters (7 ft. 6 in.) to win gold.  Afterward, Erik spotted them and stopped to place his newly-earned gold medal around Zerrik's neck, pose for a quick pic, and walked away...leaving behind a couple of surprised and thrilled young men.

What a generous gift and what a positive role model.  In a world of professional athletes who exhibit cocky, self-centered attitudes, Erik showed his young fans how to be gracious.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tangled Thursday: A Jar of Tangles

Elaine chose the theme for this week's Zentangle challenge: A Jar Full of Tangles.

I pondered drawing a jar and tangling it in; or filling an actual jar with Zentangled tiles; or drawing on a long strip of paper that would fit around the inside of the jar... but my recent infatuation with drawing flowers led to this idea:

A jar full of Zentangled flowers

Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather @ Books and Quilts.  Stop by and see what everyone is drawing and leave a link to your own post.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

1 - 2 - 3 O'clock, 4 O'clock,, Rock . . .

When the kids were in elementary school, they loved to volunteer my services for class projects.  Need someone to peel enough apples for 25 pies?  My mom can do that!  Seven dozen cookies by tomorrow?  My mom can do that! I'm not complaining.  I loved their confidence in me.  

Evidently, growing up hasn't killed that confidence.  When her boss mentioned that her daughter needed a '50s outfit for a school program, and they hadn't been able to find anything, Amanda naturally responded, "My mom can do that!"  Well, I'm not about to disappoint my daughter or her friend so, with a tutorial from Dana @ Dana Made It, and some math help from Dave, I made a Poodle Skirt.

The hitch was that I have never met the young lady who will be wearing the skirt, and her mother wanted to keep it as a surprise so she couldn't measure her.  All I knew was her height and pants size.  Dave asked his secretary, who is the same height, to measure from waist to just below her knee, then we found some size 3 jeans and measured the waistband.  That gave me a starting place, but since those numbers were pretty vague, I adapted Dana's tutorial to add a waistband/casing so size could be adjustable.  Add an iron-on applique and a rhinestone "leash", and you have a costume that's "made in the shade".

A visit to my favorite antique store provided supplies for a couple more projects.  Remember the Disappearing 9-Patch quilt I made for the camper?  (I know you don't - just humor me.)  It's still waiting for me to find some backing fabric.  I spotted a vintage tablecloth with an autumn leaf pattern today and realized it would be the perfect size and color pallet.  
I also picked up some old dresser scarves and small towels to be re-purposed at some point.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what everyone is stitching, or to link your own post.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Guernsey Literary Club and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows

Once again, I'm a little late for the party.  In this instance, six years late, but who's counting?  When this book was published in 2008, there was a lot of buzz about it, but I never got around to reading it.  I even had the book from the library at one point but returned it unread because I didn't think I would like the format (it's written as a series of letters and telegrams) or subject matter (WWII).  Wrong, wrong, wrong!

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is.  Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. - from book jacket

This book turned out to be one of those books that managed to provide a history lesson - about the German occupation - without sacrificing any of the magic of fiction. I listened to the audio version, which I think added to my enjoyment.  It was read by five different narrators so the voices and accents made the characters easily recognizable.  And I love listening to British and Scottish accents!  

If you've missed out on this book for the last six years also, don't wait any longer.   I promise it's worth the read.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mini Book Reviews: Near Misses

I seem to be in a reading slump lately.  Either I'm choosing poorly or my attitude needs adjusting, but nothing seems to be holding my attention. 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein:   I know - it's a classic!  You can't pan a classic.  But it just didn't interest me.   I read it in high school and liked it, but remembered very little about it.  When I saw the new movie tie-in version on the store shelf, I was anxious to re-read and see how time and life had changed my perspective.  Evidently I have become more cynical, because the whole realm of wizards, dwarfs and treasures seemed almost silly.  The Hobbit will remain a beloved classic in spite of my opinion but, for me, it was a disappointment.

Technically, I can't review John Grisham's Sycamore Row because I haven't finished it yet.  It's unusual that I wouldn't finish a Grisham novel within a couple days; especially this return to the setting and characters of A Time to Kill - Grisham's best novel to date.  I have read approximately half of the book but, when Dave needed something to read, I handed it off to him.  Whether or not I finish it later will depend on his review.

Time for Me to Come Home by Dorothy Shackleford

Kirkus Reviews said it all:
Nothing great or earth shattering, but a sweet, if clich├ęd, romantic Christmas tale that will warm some hearts.
The author is the mother of country music singer Blake Shelton, and the story is based on the song by the same name, written by Shelton and Shackleford.   Had I realized that, I might have been less enthused to buy this book.  I have Blake's Christmas album, Cheers, It's Christmas, and I usually skip that track.  

Come back for tomorrow's post, in which I actually like a book.  In the meantime, here's Blake Shelton singing "Time for Me to Come Home" - you make the call.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tangled Thursday: Circles

Will it go round in circles....The Circle of Life . . . spinning wheel's got to go 'round... the wheels on the bus go round and round...   "Circular" song lyrics have been going round and round in my head all week as I contemplated ways to use circles in my Zentangles.  I finally decided to take advantage of the lessons Heather posted last week and practice drawing by the Zentangle "rules".  
A string involving circles plus patterns that include circles

I also tried spiral versions of a circle.

Visit Heather @ Books and Quilts to link up your Zentangle post and find next week's challenge.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Quick Crafts

It was a week of easy craft and sewing projects -- starting with this dog bed I made for our daughter's dog.  Roland is a large dog, so he needs a large bed.  Amanda had an old comforter to use for filling so, basically, she needed a large pillow case.  Amanda chose duck cloth for it's durability, and I added velcro to hold it closed and, hopefully, deter Roland from chewing on the contents.

Project #2:  A friend asked me Friday night If I could make an apron as a gift in time for a birthday party - the next day!  With no restrictions on fabric color, I was able to use what I had on hand and got it done on time.

Project #3 was a simple idea that I found on Pinterest. Inexpensive towels from the dollar store and scraps of ribbon become travel cases for toothbrush/paste or other potentially messy products.   

Project #4 came from a lovely blog called Blissfully Content - via Pinterest.  Worn kitchen towels get remodeled into dish/dust clothes.  I have several (many?) terry cloth towels in the drawer that are past their prime, and since I picked up new ones while Christmas shopping, I could spare a few.  

The original instructions say to cut the towels into 12" squares; however, my towels were 22" long so I cut 10.5" squares and got two from each towel, discarding the hemmed edges.  Top each square with a like-sized piece of cotton fabric (wrong sides together) and stitch around the edges.  I used a zig-zag stitch (I'm not sure why) but the original blogger just straight stitched.  When they run through the washer, the edges fray into a soft fringe.   The addition of the fabric makes the clothes sturdier, for heavy scrubbing, not to mention a lot prettier.  This is a fast and easy way to "up-cycle" towels that would otherwise go to the trash - and add a little beauty to your housekeeping. 

My final craft didn't involve any stitching, but I'm including it anyway.  Again - thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration.  The recipe box in the picture above became a perpetual calendar.  The box contains an index card for each day of the year. 
The idea is very simple — flip to the current date and at the end of the day, write down something that happened. Some days it is big things like “Annie took her first steps.” Other days it is small, like “needed more than one cup of coffee this morning.”  The first year is the least rewarding, but I imagine that in 10 years, it will be a daily treat to be reminded of what happened on that date over the last decade. - Kate @ Design Sponge
For my version, I purchased 12 vintage postcards and adhered them to the divider cards that came with the box, using double-stick tape.  I still need to print out the names of the months to cover the recipe categories, but I have begun making entries.  I'll report back in about ten years.

I also found time to finish cutting the 360 strips (from 360 different fabrics) that I need to make my "book quilt" and made progress on my mini-quilts, but this post is long enough - so I'll save that for next week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather @ Books and Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what everyone's stitching or to link up.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Zentangle and the Olympics

The Winter Olympics begin tonight.  I probably watch more TV during the two weeks of the Olympics than any other time of year.  I love the figure skating, but also enjoy speed skating, some of the skiing ... and 4 years ago I even got hooked on curling.  There's more strategy there than you would think at first glance.

In honor of the opening ceremonies tonight, todays Zentangle features the Olympic circles.  

Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Stop by to see what others are drawing and to link up your Zentangles.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pieces of the Past . . .

You may have gathered from my blog design - and some previous posts - that I'm a fan of all things "retro".  A leisurely browse through an antique store is one of my favorite ways to pass the time.  You can't shop like you would at Wal-Mart - dashing in to grab one of dozens of identical items. An antique store requires time to look carefully through the displays, to consider each item's story, to ponder it's alternative uses, to be sure you don't miss a hidden gem.  The town where I work has a lovely antique mall where I can frequently be found during my lunch hour. 

Recently I spotted this vintage card table that folds flat to stand against the wall.   The legs were wobbly and the top was scarred and stained, but it had potential.  After eyeing it on several visits, I finally convinced the proprietor to let me have it for $20.  


A little wood glue and a dowel rod stabilized the legs (thanks Dave), but the top was beyond repair, so it got a new look.  Daughter Amanda - the Mod-Podge Queen - helped me select some vintage-look scrapbook paper and the proper Mod-Podge for the job.  One evening of cutting and pasting, and the table had a whole new look.

Other recent finds include:

.. a treadle sewing machine cabinet (no machine).  This one belonged to my sister-in-law's mother-in-law (did you follow that?).  It's a less ornate version of the first one, so we are using them as bed-side tables.

...this flour sifter, which makes a perfect pencil holder in the kitchen.

...and a couple of small dishes for "leftovers".  The one on the right is 1950's Pyrex - just like my mom had (or may still have).  On the left is a 1940's "refrigerator dish" which, by the way, is not microwave safe - a fact I discovered when a previous purchase "popped" into several pieces during use.  So this one will be used for storing foods that do not need to be reheated - or just on the counter for decoration.

Teri @ Henningsen Happenings recently posed the question "What is the attraction of antiques?"  Antiques, and the memories they stir, give her a bittersweet feeling that she can't quite name.  Happy memories mixed with a longing for youth?  Sadness over aging parents? I admit to having a twinge of those things when I spot something from my youth - followed by a moment of panic that my childhood is now "antique"!  But mostly I feel comforted.  Owning and using things that have a story give me a feeling of peace and beauty and continuity - a connection to the past.  Teri brought me two beautiful vintage tablecloths when she visited recently.  I'm not sure how they'll be used - but they, and my other pieces of the past, give me joy.